‘Lata didi, her family and Indian cricketers used to play cricket at their family home near Kolhapur’
Our family, extended family, everybody and everything revolved around Lata Mangeshkar. For her family always came first. She never exposed anyone from the family to the film industry you know; no show-off, nothing. There’s something about some people which sets them apart from everyone else. I was always in awe of Lata ji.
She used to watch cricket matches from the time when greats like Polly Umrigar, Vinoo Mankad used to play. The Mangeshkar family had a house at Panhala near Kolhapur where they used to go play cricket. I saw a photograph in which Didi was bowling and Vinoo Bhai was batting. Can you imagine that?
She was like a glue that binds the family together; the entire family revolved around her. Her humility and simplicity was amazing. She was an outstanding photographer. She loved travelling. Her knowledge of the game of cricket was amazing. She wasn’t merely a fan, she knew the nuances of the game. She had great love for cricket and cricketers.
I remember when a few months ago I got a message from her niece saying that Didi wanted to talk to Sunil Gavaskar. They asked me for his number? So, I immediately gave Sunil’s number as well as informed Sunil that Didi was trying to get in touch with him. After 2-3 days Sunil messaged me back saying ‘I spoke to her’. I met Lata ji because of cricket. I was a member of the CCI and I used to captain the CCI team.
‘Asha Bhosle cried after listening to Lata didi’s singing on TV’
The outside world thinks that there were issues between Lata and Asha. But that’s not true. Not at all. On one Sunday, I left for a cricket match and Varsha went to her mother’s house. She had told me to come to her mother’s house after the match as Asha ji was going to cook. Asha ji is an amazing cook. I went there around 4-4:30 pm, and everybody was sleeping after lunch. That day some big leader had passed away. And in those days of Doordarshan, when somebody famous died they would telecast classical music programs. I had put on the TV and was watching it. MS Subbulakshmi’s song got over. And then Didi appeared on TV and she sang with only a Tanpura to accompany her. She sang a beautiful bhajan. I got completely transfixed. And suddenly I realised that somebody was sobbing. I looked left and saw Asha ji who had come out of her room sobbing. I asked her what happened. She just pointed at the TV and said, ‘Inke jaisa kaun gaa sakta hai?’ I had no idea when she came and sat there. One could see that Didi’s song on TV had really touched her heart deeply. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed that moment.
I am not from the industry so I don’t know what the professional thing was. But whenever I saw them meet, they would just talk about ‘Tumko kisne kya bola aur mujhko kisne kya bola?’ So, everyone who tried to create a wedge between them was exposed. I am not their PR manager. I am telling you what I know of them from personal experience. Whenever Lata ji would get a chance she would say that people are not giving Asha the credit she deserves.